I don’t like talking politics. I don’t like how divisive it is. I don’t like the ugly sides it brings out of everyone. But, here we are. Less than a month to America’s biggest voting day (which for some reason isn’t a holiday but okay…). Let’s get into the dirty and see how we come out on the other side.
I remember that when this election cycle began, I was getting physical therapy for my wrists. Not important. What was important was the brief conversation I had with a woman sitting next to me in the group exercise room as we watch the first of many news broadcasts that would give a weirdly disproportionate amount of coverage to Trump. The Republican Party was operating under the bizarre assumption that more is more, giving an unfair advantage to the guy who would capitalize on fear and anger. That should not have been the basis of unification, but it became strong enough to sweep through the chaos and replace mistrust with fanaticism.
It’s not fair to say that’s the case across the board, but, well… One of the things that I hate about American politics is that the two-party system gave rise to the idea of being so against the other party, you’ll support your own no matter how badly you want to be critical of some of the things its advocating for. This is what happens when you set up a spectrum and demand that the extremes be kept separate. After a while, it stops being a spectrum and just becomes a bar that’s been snapped in half.
I’m sure that’s why Bernie Sanders appealed to a lot of people. I won’t pretend that everyone who felt the Bern was politically enlightened, and holy swear word of choice, did we see how disgustingly powerful trolls can be when it comes to politics.
What’s even more terrifying to me are the people who will dig their heels so far into their Party that they’ll cut themselves off from any other form of thought. It’s one thing to have faith. It’s another thing entirely to be willfully blind.
That’s why this brief conversation I had almost a year ago is stuck in my brain. I don’t remember who in the room made the comment about how little chance Trump had, but I do remember getting a knot in my stomach and thinking about how easy it is to take over a group in chaos with only a small amount of support. I learned that in high school. To this day, some of my classmates are convinced that our class slogan was thrust upon us by a band of PTO soccer moms throwing out the votes. In truth, all it took was me convincing about fifteen people to write down the phrase that a friend had come up with. It really was that easy to make 480 high school seniors wear t-shirts with that phrase blazed on the back.
That’s why, when my intelligent, liberal friends began writing online that there was no way anyone in their right mind would support Trump–being totally dismissive of Republican voters as a whole regardless of their background and who they were (are) as people–I got a bad taste in my mouth. I knew (and still know) a lot of Republican voters. These were (and still are) people that were good at heart. That I respected. That I feared I would someday see sporting Trump hats and shirts and bumper stickers. And that’s why, almost a year later, I remember piping up in the physical therapy room, and saying that I wasn’t a fan of any of the Republican candidates, and was throwing my support behind Bernie Sanders. I admitted to not actually knowing if Sanders could go the distance as he was the total long shot candidate of the time, but the other, older people around me nodding sagely as if to say, “That’s fine, dear. As long as it’s not Hillary Clinton.”
Then the woman next to me said that she didn’t really know who she would vote for from the Republicans, but there was something about Trump that was drawing her in. “There’s just something so honest about him,” she said. “He’s not tied up in all the politics so he’s going to tell it like it is.”
I regret not saying, “No, he’s just more open about being an asshole.” Instead, I just held her gaze in silence, and then turned away.
Fast forward to dismissing casual comments about sexual assault as “locker room banter.” Fast forward to calling for a ban on Muslims, to debates that more closely resembled children throwing sand on the playground than political discourse, to an open admission of not paying taxes, to outright racism, to insulting John McCain and other Prisoners of War, to every single horrible thing that the man has said and done. He’s still managed to gain the ticket in spite of it all.
I’m not going to pretend that Clinton is squeaky clean. She comes with her own set of problems, but at the very least, she has shown that she can admit to a mistake and shift based on the experience. For some reason, this is two-faced? Why, exactly, are we demanding that politicians be totally consistent throughout their careers? Is it not a good thing when someone admits a mistake and is willing to move forward from there? I admit that a big draw of Sanders was for me that he was, from where I’m standing, on the right side of a lot of issues from the beginning of his time as a politician. That doesn’t mean I believe that politicians are incapable of growing. They’re still people. And yeah, they often do get sucked in to needing to perform to the satisfaction of their respective parties. It’s depressing. It’s disheartening. But it is what happens when a two-party system is in place, and there is nothing but rivalry.
So that’s the sorry state of our political landscape. But I’m still voting in November. I’m sure you’ve already guessed for who.
No, I don’t like everything Clinton has done. Yes, I think it’s important to look at our candidates with a critical eye. But no, I really don’t think there exists a universe where Trump would be a better president than her.
So, if you’ve come here as a Trump supporter, my question to you, then, is this:
Is Trump really someone you believe will make the country better, or are you so ingrained against the Democratic Party that you will swallow your voice and vote for something you don’t really believe?