Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Next President of the United States



It's one week before Election Day. This is the second presidential election I've ever voted in.

As a thirtysomething that sounds pretty bad. No, I didn't sit out the last two elections out of apathy or protest; I was simply living abroad and couldn't figure out how to get an absentee ballot sent to me in time. While the presidential campaigns start here a year well in advance, over in the UK, I didn't start thinking about US elections until nominees were picked and the news started to get relevant.

For the record, I was pro-Obama the second time. The first time, well, it was 2008 and I was eight months pregnant with my second kid, and I didn't even know it was an election year. So I kind of missed the climax of electing the first black president of the United States. But I was on the ball in 2012, ready to cheer my man back into the White House.

But if you think me not knowing the US was about to elect its first black president is shameful, let me admit this.

The only other presidential election I ever voted in was 2000 after I turned 18. I voted for George W. Bush. So there's that.

So anyway, here we are another four years later, and we're about to decide as a nation who will be our next leader. Yet unlike the past sixteen years, where the stakes were relatively low (Gore, Kerry, McCain, Romney - none of them terrible choices), this year the stakes seem ... relatively high.

I was an avid Bernie Sanders supporter. I made no mistake about that. I had a Sanders sign in my lawn and a magnet on my car. I wore a Sanders t-shirt and had Sanders buttons hanging from my rear-view mirror and on my desk at work. I'm a huge fan of the man; I was a fan even before he announced his bid for president.

But I was never a Clinton hater. I didn't like her much, but I didn't hate her. I still viewed her as the second best option across both debate stages (followed by John Kasich, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, though it pains me to admit it). When she won the primary, I was disappointed but realistic.  At this point, we knew Trump was taking the Republican nomination, and the more he talked, the more I was convinced he was the least fit person across both debate stages to become president. (He had a few serious contenders though, on both sides of the aisle.)

I decided it was time to learn more about Hillary beyond what the media and Facebook had to say. I started reading her autobiography Living History (which I haven't actually finished). I started looking into what she's actually done in her career. And perhaps most importantly I faced up to some unrealized internal biases; basically I had to admit to myself that I was more sexist than I wanted to believe. Many of my complaints against Hillary could have been placed on any number of other politicians, but they weren't, because they were male. Males aren't "shrill", they don't have to be warm and approachable, they don't have to prove they can successfully juggle a family and a career, they can talk over each other and fight to be heard without being seen as rude or bitchy. In fact, many of the things I genuinely think are valid criticisms of Clinton turned out to be focused more on her than the actual criticisms. In other words, I view most politicians as people who lie, stretch the truth, cover things up, flip-flop, make bad decisions and then try to justify them. I'd say that about just about all of them (with the exception of Bernie). But when it came to Hillary, those things seemed bigger and more important than they seemed in relation to every other (male) politician I could think of. Internalized bias and sexism? Maybe so. Did I feel as against Bill as I did against Hillary? Actually, no. I love Bill. So why the disdain for his wife? That is far harder to admit than casting my first ballot for George W.

Now again, there are valid criticisms against Hillary. I'm not saying everything comes down to sexism, because it doesn't. Not everything. But I wonder why Hillary's emails are never far from the headlines while George W's and Colin Powell's continue to be virtually ignored? What causes such vitriol against Hillary and the things she's done, or been accused of, that doesn't reach beyond her to all the other people who have done or do the same things? Maybe the fact she's running for President, and they are not. Or maybe it's because she's been held to a higher standard her entire life, and certainly in this election, and the impossible standards she's held to only grow.

Compare that to Trump, however. Oddly enough, the standards from Trump just keep getting lower and lower. In the primary debates, Trump had a good night if all he did was make fun of another candidate's sweaty brow (and not an entire ethnic group).  Trump "debated well" if he managed to not mention the size of his penis more than once. As time went on, the standards Trump had to meet to have had a good day plummeted. If he went 24 hours without insulting a Gold Star family or suggesting a ban on an entire religious group or making a misogynist remark about a woman's looks or menstruation, he was doing well. We finally reached a stage where even a voice recording of him disparaging women and admitting sexual assault wasn't the last straw. Nothing sticks on Trump. Not like everything sticks on Clinton.

When you look at all the standards we hold across the two main parties, there is no equality. For one, we ask for perfection in high heels and a homemade pie made of rainbows, and for the other, we ask for 24 hours of no verbal diarrhea. When they both fail, we are less disappointed with the diarrhea. Because, well, we weren't really expecting much.

I'll admit one other thing: the media IS biased towards Clinton. I'm not blind. A post-debate panel on CNN will consist of two Trump supporters and eight "others". However, I kind of feel that when the stakes are this high and the candidates are this unbalanced, it's hard to be neutral. How can one be neutral over sexual assault, ethnic slurs and encouraged foreign espionage?

Now we're seven days away from Election Day. Without sounding dystopian, I'm nervous. Really nervous actually. I would have loved to see a President Sanders, but I'm actually pretty stoked over the idea of a President Clinton now. I'm excited for my son and daughters to witness the first woman elected as President of the United States. I don't think she'll do amazing things (though maybe I'm wrong), but I think she'll do good things. Still I'm nervous, really nervous, over the possibility that Trump might actually pull this off. I hate to negate everything by invoking Godwin's Law, but seriously - the parallels of fascism are frightening. A strong leader, who says out loud what the people are thinking but are afraid to say, comes along and promises greatness, promises to get rid of the problems (aka, people who look problematic), makes grandiose claims and bullies anyone who gets in his way. Strength right?

I don't usually talk about politics, but with the election so close, it's on the forefront of my mind. This will be my second presidential election, and it's a damn important one. I'll be casting my vote this week, for President, for Congress, for state legislature, for local officials and for state ballot initiatives. Then I'll sit back, biting my nails, as I watch history write itself before my own eyes.


5 comments:

  1. So Lori, I'm curious. Are you pro-choice? Although I know you've renounced faith in God, somehow, I thought you would be pro-life. I do understand that in a universe without a God, the pro-choice position has a certain logic. If decisions about who lives and who dies are not determined by a God who created all life, if he doesn't exist, and therefore we are not bound to surrender such decisions to him, then it's quite sensible to end-before-it-starts the life of a child who would otherwise be born into a life of poverty, crime and abuse. But I do believe in God, so the abortion thing is my big hang-up with Hillary (that and the fact that my husband, who works with defense contractors, would be in prison if he had handled classified information the way she did). But mostly abortion. It is unacceptable to me that she condones even late term abortions. Babies are regularly born as early as 24 weeks, and kept alive successfully, yet Hillary would condone aborting even a 39 week baby (fetus?)--I gave birth to one at 39 weeks, one at 38 weeks, and two at 36. They were perfect. In terms of the health of the mother, a late abortion is riskier than a c-section, which would enable the baby to live. I cannot vote for this. Still, I would never vote for Trump. I just can't. People who claim to be Christians and insist that Trump has converted, that he now has faith, that he is the answer to all our problems, I just want to scream in their faces: he is a completely unscrupulous person; he certainly does not reflect the love of Christ for all people. He is a documented liar, and he laughs when he's caught. Why would anyone ever believe anything he says? Why do these people tell me I am sinning by "refusing to forgive him"? I can forgive somebody without handing him the presidency. Forgiveness doesn't mean you turn around and place full confidence in the person. And for that matter, people who refuse to forgive Hillary are committing exactly the same sin they are accusing me of. I'm voting for Evan McMullin. I like him. I'm being accused by my pro-life friends of therefore casting a vote for Hillary and being complicit in the slaughter of innocent babies, but I don't see it that way. My trust is in God, no matter who becomes president next week. Even if it's Hillary. And if God puts Hillary in office, I will address her as President Hillary. And pray for her.

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  2. Edited for typo!

    Well, long answer made short, I personally could never have an abortion. As soon as I see those two pink lines, it's a real baby, and it's mine. I don't like the idea of abortion, it hurts me.

    BUT I honestly can't make that call for everyone. I've never been in any situation where having a child would be devastating. I can't tell another woman what the right choice for her is.

    It's true that not believing in "souls" or afterlife or any of those things does change how I feel about an unborn child (fetus). For me personally, it doesn't change anything, but generally speaking, seeing the human race as a biological species, it does shift the viewpoint.

    I am pro-choice. My personal choice would always be to carry the child. But I can't make that choice for someone in another pair of shoes.

    Also, there's a little misunderstanding about late term abortions. The only time these are allowed are when medically necessary. A woman who has carried a child that long is a woman who has a crib and a nursery and tiny baby clothes already folded in the tiny white dresser. This is not a woman who casually decides she doesn't want to be pregnant anymore. Every woman I know who has had a late term abortion has found it to be devastating and heartbreaking. But medically necessary, for whatever reason. (There are many different reasons.) And it's not legal to have an abortion once you've entered the third trimester. So the idea that Clinton would be okay with an abortion at 39 weeks is ludicrous. If a medical issue happened in the third trimester, delivery would be induced or a cesarean would be performed.

    Thanks for your comments, Ruth. I always appreciate your thoughtful insights, and you have a kind and compassionate spirit. I know we only know each other online, but I always welcome your comments. <3

    (Evan McMullin seems like a pretty good guy.)

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  3. Thanks Lori. There are a lot of voices out there, saying a lot of different things. I guess we all have to take our best shot at figuring out what is fact and what is fiction, and if we can't exactly figure it out, we generally just choose which things we will believe. I think everyone does this, without exception. I'm very cynical about sources, and I'll own that. My cynicism crosses political party lines and religious denominations. I pretty much only trust people on a case-by-case basis, never on an affiliation, and even people I have trusted have disappointed me. I don't figure there is much truth to be had in the media or on the internet, although there is certainy some, if only we could figure out how to discern it. I do think that most people would like to know the truth; or at least, most people think they want the truth. Subconsciously, I'm not sure we really do, and realistically, I'm not sure we can handle it when we get it (didn't Jack Nicholson have a famous line in some movie? "You can't handle the truth!" -- ?). Still, most of us want the truth, and we want to be good guys. We just don't want to experience any discomfort in the process of discovering and applying truth, and actually living out the life of a good guy. Therein lies the problem. But I've rambled too long.

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    1. You're so right though. We are all in that same boat. I think we all do want truth - but we don't want to be wrong either. And we don't want the uncomfortable transition from being wrong to believing the truth. It's hard, and I'm just as guilty as anyone else! So I try hard to not judge others for their beliefs or opinions because while I'm "sure" I'm right, so are they. And probably at the end of the day, we're both a little right and a little wrong. :) But as long as you're a good person, then your beliefs and opinions should be secondary when people look at you. Who you are is more important than what you think. In my opinion. :)

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