In a few weeks, those of us who exercise the right and privilege to vote are going to elect a new president. Not so long ago, a generation of women protested, lobbied, fought, and won the right to cast a ballot. I understand that a vote for president seems almost pointless sometimes, and that politics can be hard to stomach and even harder to decipher, especially with all the noise and bullshit. I get that the RNC and DNC make it quite difficult to get in at the local levels enough to make a run for that office, but nothing changes until someone gets in and does it.
You have to be able to be four people at once to be president – a lucrative fundraiser, a politics nerd, a charismatic, articulate public speaker, and an ice cold negotiator. That’s just nuts. There are few people in the world that meet these qualifications, let alone in this country. Most other governments in the world have this split in to at least two positions, but the USA expects everything because that’s just how we roll.
The 2016 election is the logical conclusion of this one man to do it all mentality. This country has always been looking for a hero, and in the era of reality TV, it makes sense that one of their stars could capture our attention.
The Trump Campaign is a cluster fuck of epic proportions. His mouthpieces are gaslighting the country, the man is at best, a narcissistic attention whore and serial misogynist. In an era when our neighbors to the north are ensuring that the make up of their government reflects the entirety of the electorate by appointing a cabinet that is half women, and that there is significant representation by people of color, we’re on the cusp of a decision that will move the US in to the future or doom us to at best, four more years of gridlock. At worst, Putin calls in his bill and we end up with Russia nuking the Yellowstone Caldera and mining the crater to get their money. (How much does Trump owe them anyway? Someone should take a look at his tax returns. OH WAIT.)
Not voting is just as much a demonstration of privilege as voting is. One party in this country might take all that data from election day, do an expensive study, and then allow their candidate to light the entire damn thing on fire and piss on it, but the other learns what is important to those of us who use our voices and try to work within the process that’s been outlined to fix what needs fixed. The issue is, that the process is ridiculous. It doesn’t make it any less important to pay attention to and try to change.
Showing up in politics doesn’t have to mean running for office. It also means making your opinion known by interacting with politicians, however that happens. My way is snarky email to state and national legislators, giving money, staying up to date with what is going on in the world, and talking about policy and issues and doing my own research online as well as voting in every election. It’s not just about the President every four years, it’s the boring things like local school board elections and city and state representation that make a bigger difference that we can see more visibly. Yes, it’s a time commitment. Only 60% of eligible voters usually show up anyway so as someone that feels that the right to vote shouldn’t be taken for granted, I also feel like I have to make sure that my opinions are well founded, and reflect the America I want to see.
The country I see does not suck. Crime is lower than it’s ever been outside of a few cities, the economy is doing better, and more people have more social freedoms to live their lives than before. Politics are more transparent than ever, as long as the BS can be sorted. Half this country has been conditioned for at least three generations to trust in their feelings over any outside influence, which makes that process impossible. The threats facing us are real, and almost everyone can identify them. Jobs, international relations, name-the-ism, governmental waste…it’s all there and it all needs handled. What is going to correct a lot of these issues is true systemic equality across all people, and in the modern era may look completely different than anything that has come before. We need a map to get there. The people who are going to draw it are the ones that we’re electing to city councils and state legislatures. Do we want to move forward, or desperately try to get back to a past that we can never reach?
The 2016 presidential election is vital – it’s possible several Supreme Court justices will be appointed by this president, plus the whole “in charge of the military” and “working with the house and congress” deals. When I think of someone I want identifying people for a job that requires making decisions that affect every single citizen every single day in that way, I don’t want the guy that thinks hiring right wing media nut jobs who’s only real qualification was being just as much of a laughingstock as he was to run his campaign was a good idea. Hillary is not the perfect candidate. Hell, if I had my way, I’d be voting for the Biden/Warren ticket on November 8th. But she is experienced, and is either a white collar criminal mastermind or a highly skilled politician and understands the gravity of the office she’s about to walk into and neither of those bother me as much as the sinking feeling of dread I get everytime Trump shows his face or says something nonsensical and nasty.
Trump’s base contains a consistent group of voters who have less education, less resources, and fewer fucks than the average American. Some would benefit from his policies, at least the theoretical outlines of them that he passes off as ideas. There are also those who just want to end the government because it is bad and think Trump will do it. That last group might be right when it comes to the Republican National Committee and GOP leadership, but I have to believe that the entirety of those paying attention in the many groups Trump has managed to piss off and push toward Hillary during this campaign will greatly overshadow his constituents and allow us to remain a functional country.
Everyone has a right to their opinions and their vote. They can do what them what they wish. But I also have the right to tell you that it’s damn hard to give much sway to the opinions of people who feel they are too smart, too cool, or too apathetic to participate in the process. Voter disenfranchisement has been a US way of life since before the Civil War. It’s truly obnoxious to those communities who fought and clawed for our rights to participate to watch others toss them aside for dubious reasons. Yeah, it’s much better to have a knowledgeable yet marginalized voter participate, than an uninformed jackass who’s only motivation is blowing things up and watching the show, but this stuff is the most talked about topic in the country all the time. There’s no lack of information. Please, do a few hours of real research from reputable sources and vote. Not just for the race at the top of the ticket, but the rest of the ballot as well. If you don’t like how things are, try to work within the system (and that includes peaceful protests), rather than torch everything and give the keys to a man whose disregard of human life other than his own could be the downfall of one of the greatest experiments of human history – America. A country that I happen to think is pretty damn awesome.