Hello, folks. This is an essay I wrote on my Facebook wall the day after the election in November. My feelings today are just as strong as my feelings back then. It actually hurts my head if I think on it too much…
My apologies in advance. Brevity while writing is not one of my strong suits.
In this two-party system, I am a Republican. That does not mean I’m a right-wing Conservative Tea Party nutjob. Rather, to use a football field as an example, if the 50-yard line is being a centrist, I’m probably somewhere around the 45-yard line on the right side of the field. In other words, I find myself agreeing with aspects of the Conservative *and* Liberal ideologies, but lean ever so slightly to the right. As such, I’ve voted Republican over the years. Yup…one of those party-line folks who sucks it up and votes the party even though I wasn’t overly thrilled with candidates like Bob Dole or Mitt Romney. But, given the fact that there were only ever two legitimate options, coupled with my aforementioned leaning to the right, that’s what I did.
And then we come to this election cycle. I’ve never given the elections much thought – party-line guy, right? – but this election has troubled me ever since the campaigning started. Remember when we had 572 candidates for the Republican nomination? None of them jumped out as anyone I really wanted to get behind. A couple of them outright baffled me. And, lo and behold, one those from the latter category actually got the nomination. Commence the wringing of hands and cold sweat. You see, I had never not voted for a Republican in my life. And as the months wore on, it became more and more apparent that I would be making a break from past history in order to vote for someone, anyone, other than Donald Trump.
How is it possible to do this, you ask? Funny…I would ask the same question to the people who found it in themselves to vote for him, sometimes with resounding fervor. I’ve thought about it for months now, and lost sleep over it last night as I tried to gather my thoughts for what I hoped would be a cathartic release of pent-up frustration (the deep-rooted cynic in me knows this rant won’t help, but I digress). I’ve come up with three ways that Trump won this election, and won it handily:
1. Voting the Party Line — Hey, I get it, you’re either one or the other, right? I just admitted up above that I’ve done the same thing. For most people there is no in-between. I have no doubt that there are people who absolutely, positively could not vote for anything other than the Republican Party in this election (or, maybe if you let your inner anarchist win out, you voted Libertarian, Green, Marijuana NOW, etc). Of the three ways Trump won, this one I can kind of understand in a normal election. Problem is, this is far from a normal election, in my humble opinion.
2. Voters Disliking Hillary as Much as Others Dislike Trump – There’s been plenty of hubbub about Hillary and her e-mail servers, not to mention her record during her tenure in numerous positions. Trust me when I tell you, I’m not a fan of Hillary either, both from a political perspective (in that I fall on the Conservative side just a bit more than the Liberal side) AND the feeling that if there’s smoke in all these areas there’s likely some fire (big or small) somewhere in those woods. That being said — like it or not, believe it or not – she’s been through the witch hunt and hasn’t had anything stick, despite the incredible scrutiny. Still doesn’t mean there wasn’t any wrongdoing, but it also means you can’t assume guilt (if we also make the assumption that we agree with due process?). In the end, it really doesn’t matter. I chose not to vote for Trump because of the man and what he stood for; there were obviously people who did the same thing with Hillary because of who she is and what she stood for.
3. Angry (Mostly White) People – Of the three reasons I list here, this one makes me the saddest and most worried. There is no denying that Donald Trump pandered to angry people, and when you get down to it, we’re really talking about angry white men. Who on Earth would have thought a candidate for the position of President of the United States of America – arguably the most important job in the world – could stand before his country and say the things he said with no political repercussions? If anything, he’s shone the light on an aspect of American life that I had hoped we were past in this country – there are many, many people with deep-seated biases against myriad groups of people, and these angry people came to the polls in droves feeling validated in their anger. And, most shocking of all, he got votes from the people he alienated along the way. Women? Second-class citizens and the objects of his unwanted sexual advances. Christians? If you think Donald Trump cares about your morals and beliefs, you haven’t been paying attention. The only god Donald Trump worships is the man staring back at him in the mirror each morning as he coifs his hair. Veterans? Just ask John McCain or the Khan family (and save the “someone just handed me their purple heart and I’m so honored” crap. Not interested). Foreigners and believers of other religions (especially Muslims)? Yeah, let’s shut down the borders and build walls and do everything we can to isolate ourselves and keep EVERYONE out. Disabled people? I still throw up in my mouth when I see the video of him mocking a disabled reporter at a speech. And on and on we go. I don’t mind if you’re as far right as right can go in your ideology – again, I’ve voted that way my entire voting life as well – but how do you look at this man who spews hatred at damn-near every demographic and feel that he’s the right person for this job? He’s either stoking your fiery anger to his benefit, or he’s actively battling against your gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, military experience, etc and YOU’RE STILL VOTING FOR HIM! A man who not only doesn’t have your back, but is wholeheartedly anti-YOU, and he still gets your vote. Honest to God, it boggles the mind.
I went to my election site yesterday morning, and I was still undecided. I knew that voting for Clinton was probably the safest way to go if I truly wanted to make my voice known as a Trump dissenter. But, as mentioned above, I have many reservations about the Clintons and didn’t think I could do it. My other choice was a third-party candidate, primarily Gary Johnson, if I wanted to try to help a party get more funding and opportunities in the next election. What to do, what to do? Until I stood there in my booth, I didn’t have the answer. Ultimately, I chose Hillary Clinton. I didn’t like it then, and still don’t like it. But I can assure you I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I had toed the line and selected Donald Trump as my choice for President.
I was surprised that Donald Trump even threw his hat in the ring all those months ago. I was stunned when he ended up with the nomination. And I’m completely floored that he is now my President. I’m not a sky-is-falling kind of person during these things. You know the type – when Bush was elected, the ultra-liberals proclaimed the end of humanity; same with the ultra-conservatives when Obama was elected. But this deplorable man is now running the country. He is the face of the United States of America, a man who will continue his vitriol at home and can now send it overseas as well. I’m truly saddened, embarrassed, and disgusted by what has happened. My hope would be that the checks-and-balances inherent in our political system will prevent him from running amok. I don’t usually fear that things done in Washington will have a huge impact on my life – they haven’t during the first forty years; I’m hoping the same will be true of the next four. But folks, I gotta tell you…I have no faith or trust in this man, and he worries me more than the average bear.
And with that, I’ll slink back into my hole. My apologies again for the long message, and my thanks to you if you read this far, whether you agree with me or not. I have to assume this note will make half of you shake your head in disagreement and half of you nod your head in approval. Regardless, when something gets stuck in my head, the only way to exorcise it is to write it out. I’ve done that, and hopefully now I can move on (after a strong whiskey-Coke chaser, perhaps).
I’ll end by affirming the obvious: this is all just my opinion. In the words of the late-great Vikings coach, Dennis Green, “…what’s great about America, everybody has an opinion. You know what I mean? But what’s also great about America, you don’t have to listen to them. And that’s the great part.”
Until we meet again…