Thoughts one day before the election:
Months ago, I committed to voting for Hillary because of the unique threat Trump poses. I’ve been vocal about my decision to vote for Hillary and have written about why it is important to stop Trump and have asked others to vote for Hillary as well. I have also asked for tolerance and understanding for the myriad experiences taking place during this election cycle. I have tried to offer perspective on why it is difficult for many to vote for Hillary even under these extreme circumstances and those like myself who will vote for her, but for whom it is a deep and oftentimes painful and confusing struggle. I had hoped that as a liberal reaching out to other liberals, I would be met with some measure of understanding. In some instances that has happened. Unfortunately, in far too many, it has not.
Hillary is not as dangerous as Trump. I believe that with utmost certainty. That is why I chose to vote for her. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that in this final week, I have been on the receiving end of and have witnessed much that has forced me to second-guess that decision to vote for her, that has made that personal struggle even more intense.
Yes, Hillary is not as bad as Trump. However, I have found that far too many Hillary-supporters are as dangerous in my mind as your average Trump-supporter. The level of intolerance and shaming I have seen has left me feeling that the divide between conservatives and liberals isn’t as wide as we might think or believe, that we are all susceptible to being both manipulated and instigated by fear. Even though I am voting for Clinton, I have still been called “selfish” and “irresponsible” for trying to express and share with others why that decision is such a difficult one; to offer perspective for those out there struggling to understand why and how this decision could be fraught, could be immensely challenging, even painful.
This has come from people who believe they speak for and represent the party of inclusiveness, empathy, open-mindedness, equality, freedom of speech and choice, and are fighting for the “common good.” I have witnessed a level of hate and intolerance and bullying that has left me spinning. In addition to the names that I have been called, in addition to the immense intolerance I have been shown by so very many, I have also watched women attacking other women for expressing their difficulties in voting for Hillary, for having a different perspective or a different struggle. I have seen groups of women calling other women “twats” and claiming that those women don’t even have a right to be called “women.” To me, this is incredibly destructive, it is the antithesis of empowerment. It is most certainly not inclusive or compassionate. And it certainly isn’t working toward any “common good.” The phenomenon or “trend” I am witnessing, of fear and anxiety manifesting as intolerance and discrimination and taking the form of browbeating and hostility, feels like a rampant response that has only escalated as election day approaches. Hate and intolerance doesn’t lead Democrats to a different place than it does Republicans. It’s the same road.
To those who have chosen to go down that path, I offer this: the fear is real. The pain and suffering, the anger, the resentment, the betrayal, the marginalization, the disenfranchisement, the violence, the deep unfairness of it all… It’s all real. For most every human being no matter what side of the voting ticket you are on. What we do with those feelings, how we allow them to manifest, is what separates us. To see just how many people on the Democratic side of that ticket have allowed themselves to transform those many deep feelings into actions of intolerance and bullying and hate is deeply disturbing to me. Enough for me to, in these final days before the election, have to second-guess my decision to vote for Hillary. I do not want to vote for a president or a party that supports and instigates hate and intolerance and bullying. Conservative or Liberal.
If you are someone who has shamed others for not voting the way you are voting, if you have shamed someone for voting the way you would like them to vote, but still need them to be quiet or need them to not only vote the way you would like them to but also insist that they share your experience of doing so, that their decision should be a “no-brainer” because it is so for you. If you truly believe you represent the only group of people genuinely fighting for the “common good.” If you have berated those who do not see things exactly the way you do. If you have name-called and shamed those who do not share your personal sense of what should be “most important.” If you think each person in this country has a responsibility to vote a certain way regardless of what their hearts or conscience or needs or vision for the future tells them… I understand your anger, fear, and frustration. I truly do. However, this route, to me, plants the very same seeds that sprouted into the mind-set that has not only allowed Trump to have voice, but allowed him to have an audience.
Intolerance, bullying, shaming, demonization, hate-speech, alienation, rejection… It is no different across party lines. Being a Liberal or a Democrat does not make you immune to this, as I have witnessed first-hand on a daily basis. I am equally disturbed by the actions of just as many Democrats and Liberals as Republicans and Conservatives this election.
I fear that there is no place for me and others like me in today’s Democratic Party. That I and my experiences are not welcome, that I do not have a voice there. I fear that this is no longer the party of inclusiveness, of tolerance, of equality, of compassion. It has taken a lot for me to try and understand those fears and the feelings of immense rejection and belittlement, of dismissiveness and marginalization that I have been experiencing from other liberals. It is only through fighting to understand those feelings, where they come from, what they tap into and how I can choose to respond to them, that will allow me to vote for Hillary anyway. But it has made that decision a thousand times more difficult and challenging as I also realize that I am voting for a party that includes a large percentage of members actively engaging and promoting intolerance and marginalization, alongside censorship. That scares me. But I also know those people do not represent the entire party or everyone in it. I have also engaged with people with whom I have differences of perspective and interpretation, who have expressed equal desire to understand all sides and to allow those experiences to be as real and as valid as their own. To those who have been committed to open dialogue and communication, to being genuinely inclusive and curious and have shown respect and tolerance and genuine open-mindedness, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are the ones that give me hope. You are the ones I will try and focus on when voting tomorrow.
And I will continue to call out intolerance and bullying and shaming wherever I see it. Because I would love all of us to be able to recognize that response in ourselves and to know that there is another perspective that we can take in the face of all that terrifies us. Even though, oftentimes, that path is frighteningly difficult and filled with pain and struggle. The kind that can effect you to the very core of your being. And I will continue to call out corruption or policies that I think are damaging to this country not only in their most tangible forms, but also in how they effect our country’s psyche. And I have no doubt that I will struggle with all of these right up to the moment I cast my vote tomorrow. And beyond.