Following Hillary Clinton’s much predicted and sizable routing of Sanders in the D.C. primary Tuesday night, we can now say, the Primaries are over! The national embarrassment that has seen a dozen and a half men and women capitulate over petty semantics and the size of their… hands has officially been put to bed. With Bill Kristol’s latest great white hope, David French, flaking out of his announced third party bid in less time than it takes for the Republican frontrunner to type out a hastily misspelled and misinformed tweet, we are now left to decide between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
I’ve always valued pragmatism over idealism, but appreciate the inherent need for both in a forward-functioning society. I would only ask that we not vote out of resentment, but out of clarity for the times we are in. Come November, we will not merely be voting for our own ideals. As a society that prides itself on inclusivity, we will be duty-bound to vote for the future generations of Americans to live without a leader that censors journalism and free speech, who celebrates prejudice, xenophobia, racism, sexism, elitism and has engendered aggression against minorities.
The office of the President is little more than that of a glorified national cheerleader. We are told we can vote for change every four years, but it is Congress that affects real change. Not coincidentally, their members have no term limits and are well financed by special interest groups. To affect real change we must overturn the absurdly permissive incumbency rate within Congress, as well as instituting much needed term limits. Whether we are for or against the President doing something substantial on gun control, it is people Mitch McConnell, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst (all whom have taken considerable contributions from the National Rifle Association) that dam up the works for reasonable gun control regulations to curry favor for the NRA donors that fund their reelection campaigns; another reason for term limits.
McConnell and others have gone so far as to agree with the NRA that people on terrorist watch lists, like the one that the Orlando shooter was previously on, should still be able to buy fully automatic rifles like the folding stock M-16 that butchered 49 innocent men and women. The NRA, of which these politicians support, has gone as far as insisting that people on no-fly lists should still be able to purchase as many guns and ammunition as they can afford. America will not be a safer place and we will not see any comprehensive gun measures until we first institute term limits in Congress, which has devolved into little more than a frat house whose regulars do the bare minimum in representing their constituents, if they show up for work at all.
All that said, it was a given that during a campaign cycle tragedy would be turned to opportunity. While Clinton delivered a measured and concise response, it should come as no surprise Trump used the incident to further condemn the Muslim faith, people of Muslim nations, as well as Muslim Americans, which he alluded to “hiding something” and insinuating that “they know something”. This paled in comparison to his claim that “maybe [Obama] doesn’t want to get it”, passive-aggressively insinuating that the President of United States of America (the same one that 86ed Osama Bin Laden) is a terrorist sympathizer. Now, of course, he never implicitly said “the President is a terrorist sympathizer”. Like the typical spiritual-less coward he is, he couched his words in vague assumptions and wholly unfounded incendiary hypothesis, seeding the notion in the minds of his increasingly aggressive and paranoid followers.
After being called on his patently racist, if not seditious, remarks by the Washington Post, Trump revoked their press credentials. This is only one of a slalom course of red flags that his candidacy has raised. The censoring of free speech and independent journalism by a populist braggart, a nationalistic ill-tempered fascist has precedence. Now, while I feel that Trump’s campaign team doesn’t have the wherewithal to organize a lunch order let alone reunite the Fatherland, he does encourage individuals to celebrate their hate. As I mentioned, the Presidency is a psychological fixture that serves as a national barometer. It is in this aspect that a traveling snake-oil salesmen like Trump is most dangerous.
Trump’s rhetoric will not win him the White House, but it will serve to alienate American citizens from one another. After the tragedy (not nearly strong enough of a word) in Orlando, the discrimination the LGBTQ community has seen in the wake of multiple states’ “religious freedom” laws, the vilification of immigrants (many displaced through American military intervention), and the continued unwarranted persecution of innocent Muslim men and women, we need to take a long, dispassionate look in the mirror and question what kind of nation do we want to be? Despite the understandable misgivings many people have in regards the Clinton’s financial ties, despite the fact that she played the unwitting foil to one of the most popular Democratic nominees in recent history, she is not Trump. And that is not a glib, lesser-of-two-evils remark. There is a striking contrast between the two, a contrast that will come to define the stories future generations will read about. Given the gravity of the world around us, we cannot allow our General Elections ballots to be dictated by spite, fear, hatred or popularity contests held on social media.
Regardless of whom you choose, I ask that you make it a vote of love over hate, of peace over violence, of heart over ego, of brains over bravado, only then can we begin to heal as a nation and as individuals.