Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Confession of a reluctant Hilldawg

I'll make this short and sweet, because there's already an overwhelming amount of election coverage online. I have voted -- by mail, so there's no sticker to prove it, but the Nebraska Secretary of State's website says they've received and accepted my ballot. It's just that I was asked several times today, so I figured I'd go ahead and reveal my vote.

I voted for Hillary Clinton for president. No, I'm not particularly pleased with how everything has gone. Preserving the status quo is part of why American democracy feels so sclerotic right now, and Clinton is nothing if not the personification of business as usual (the whole "being a woman" thing aside). She is far too hawkish for my liking, and there is a long record of behavior that suggests that even if she does not consider herself above the law, she certainly acts thusly. There are real concerns that her close ties to Wall Street will hamstring any meaningful financial reform. Clinton is a very flawed candidate, and in any run-of-the-mill election she'd be well behind a generic Republican (step forward, Tim Pawlenty).

That said, the alternatives this year are worse. Gary Johnson and the Libertarians have some good policy ideas, but on balance I can't support them or a candidate who seemingly can't even take himself seriously. The Greens? I donated to, and volunteered for, the Green Party once upon a time. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 (albeit in Nebraska, where there was no danger of swinging the election). But Jill Stein? Wi-Fi fearing, conspiracy-mongering, more-progressive-than-thou Jill Stein? Nein, danke. My kingdom for a Green Party that can put forward serious candidates on a consistent basis and not just pop up for attention grabs every four years.

And then there's the other guy. I would sooner write myself in for president (I'm eligible now!) before voting for him, and if you know me and my low opinion of myself, that's saying something. I want the fights to be over how to help people fleeing war-torn areas, how to build up women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community into being fully recognized members of and stakeholders in America (they are in theory, but our system certainly doesn't treat them as such), and how to tackle growing inequality in the country while still preserving a fertile environment for people and businesses to prosper -- not whether to do those things at all.

America needs to live up to its billing as a rock-and-roll nation for all instead of perpetuating a system that renders it a country of, by, and for old, white men. Does greater inclusiveness mean more disagreements, compromises, and uncomfortable conversations with fellow Americans? Damn straight it does. But I prefer that to a country that caters to the needs of heterosexual, white men before anyone else's -- and that's coming from a heterosexual, white male who would stand to benefit from that system were I to play its game. Is America great? Yeah, but we can be better and do better by those who aren't born into the same privilege as everyone else.

I also want the other guy to lose for selfish reasons. As an American living abroad, the last thing I want is the president -- the one who is the face of my country for so many people around the worlds -- to be a racist, sexist, xenophobic, authoritarian bigot who apparently can't even be trusted to run his own Twitter account. Dan Carlin was correct when he called this a "Monkey's Paw election"; American democracy does need an outsider to come in, shake up the system, and make government more responsive to the people. This guy, though? No, no, a thousand times no. It's saying something when a presidential candidate from a major party is endorsed by the KKK and doesn't reject it, yet barely anyone bats an eyelash. This guy not only needs to lose, he needs to be rejected and repudiated with so much righteous fury that it will stun him and all the alt-right, white nationalist types riding his coattails. The Good Old Days for which so many apparently pine are dead and buried -- and for good reason. The way forward for this country is not exclusivity and fear but inclusivity and love.

So, yeah. Clinton. I do hope she wins, for all I've already said about her. It would be nice for my country to catch up to Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines and have a woman as the head of state. Then, once she's in office, the work to push her, her party, and the country as a whole in a more progressive direction begins. There is a sea change coming in American politics, and if progressives want to push the Democrats in a more leftward direction, the time to start packing state houses, governor's mansions, and congressional seats with progressives is now.

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