This election cycle has been vicious, nasty and horrifying. As a centrist/center leftist, I am distressed by the choices available for President. I have felt this way in previous elections, but never to this depth. Nevertheless, as before, I will vote.
I am more distressed at the violence and hatred lurking not so quietly. Allegations of voter intimidation on one side, fire-bombing on the other. This is quite simply unacceptable and flat-out un-American.We are better than this. We have to be.
I would like to add my voice, clear and distinct, to those urging all Americans to vote. Make your opinion heard. Do not sit this, or any election, out. Other nations literally die and kill for this right–do not take it lightly. If you are female or a non-Caucasian, your right to vote in THIS country has been hard won–do not abuse the sacrifices of our forebears.
I also would like to add a challenge to every voter. I would like for you to challenge your prejudices. I am completely serious on this. It may not change your mind on a candidate; it may merely solidify in your mind that you had the right candidate in the first place. But I submit that going through this process will force you to examine yourself, any prejudices you may harbor (and I believe we all do, every last one of us), and break down your decision.
What I would like for us all to do is take the candidate we do NOT like and imagine if the worst we believe about them were not true. What if, for example, there really was a media conspiracy against Donald Trump? What does that mean to you? What if the allegations against Hillary Clinton really are completely false? What does that change? How do you know feel about her candidacy? Spend some time, do some research. What is the source material you have to work with? What news outlets make the reports you believe? Who owns those news outlets? (Warning: You may wind up feeling horribly jaded about the media.) Read opinions that do not agree with yours with an eye towards understanding another point of view.
Continue to challenge yourself in your interactions in person and online. If someone posts an opinion you disagree with, stop yourself from denigrating the person. Chances are the person is not stupid. Ask why they have that opinion. Explain your side, keeping personal attacks out of the equation. Listen. Listen with intent to understand, not intent to dissect and parse the wording and phraseology.
This could lead to actual civil discourse. And, God help us, genuine problem solving.
But most importantly–vote. Vote your conscience. Vote for who YOU believe is the best candidate–not who the media pundits believe, not who your favorite celebrity endorses, not who your family is supporting. Vote for who YOU want. If you will have difficulty getting to a polling station, there are dozens of organizations that can help you. Reach out to a church, or a local political party–they are almost certainly organizing rides to vote. And if you feel disenfranchised and as if you don’t matter, your vote won’t count, stop right there. The single-most enfranchising act you can take is to vote. You do count. You do matter. You must vote.
I am weary of the partisan snarkiness, the constant name-calling. I am sick to my soul with dismissive attitudes and belittling entire groups of people “Muslims” “women” “Republicans”. The woman in the head scarf wants her children to grow up free to learn, worship, and realize their goals–same as I do. Silence your fears, and remember that openness and inclusiveness strengthen our nation, There is no ‘us versus them’–we are all us, we are all them.
Bless America. Vote America. Every one of us.